Carbon County will again participate in a statewide weather emergency exercise at the 911 Communications Center in Nesquehoning on Tuesday, March 1.

This exercise is part of Weather Emergency Preparedness Week, which was adopted by the Carbon County Commissioners during their Thursday meeting. Weather Emergency Preparedness Week is Feb. 28 through March 4.

Mark Nalesnik, coordinator of the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, said the weather emergency exercise will be held for members of county emergency teams from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The exercise will deal with severe weather related emergencies such as tornadoes, floods or high winds.

"We are preparing, upgrading, resupplying and assessing our EOC capabilities in anticipation that an EOC activation may become necessary. Flooding and high winds are typically what we end up dealing with during the upcoming spring season," he said.

During the exercise, the Communications Center will issue severe weather warnings, which will be placed on a message board at the facility. A group of organizations participating in the event will then be assigned to each incident. They will be responsible for overseeing its mitigation, write up an incident report and update information until the emergency is resolved.

A copy of each incident report will then be submitted to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

The exercise allows county and municipal governments, as well as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers and other special facilities to test their disaster preparedness and response programs.

Nalesnik also stresses that during Weather Emergency Preparedness Week, residents should make an emergency kit and discuss a plan in case of weather emergencies.

"Each family needs to sit down and discuss what they would do in an emergency before it happens," said Nalesnik. "Each person needs to know who the family's emergency contact is and how to reach that person, and how the family plans to get back together in case an emergency happens while they're separated. In addition, families need to plan for their pets. Having a plan in place can make an emergency a little less scary for everyone."

The plan should include an emergency kit, which will help the family to survive without outside help for at least 72 hours. The kit should contain water, high energy ready-to-eat foods, and personal medications for each family member, as well as a first aid kit, blankets, a change of clothing, flashlights, a battery-operated radio and fresh batteries. PEMA has created a website to help citizens prepare for emergencies. Emergency kit checklists; as well as family plan templates can be downloaded at www.ReadyPA.org.

"A big part of preparation includes knowing what types of severe weather hit your area, and knowing how to protect yourself and your family when that weather hits," Nalesnik said. "The only thing we know for sure is that we will experience severe weather in Pennsylvania. The questions are when and where. That uncertainty requires preparation in advance to minimize loss of life and property during a weather emergency."

Nalesnik also recommends that municipalities and public work departments make a serious effort to keep storm drains cleaned and clear of obstructions so that floodwaters can run off freely to prevent serious flooding and standing water issues.

This is very pertinent today as heavy rains fell over night and during the day, causing snow to melt and flash flooding to occur in some low-lying areas.